Is repeating a prayer a sin?


I didn’t realize this but I was reading a few posts on here and I was wondering if getting distracted during prayer is a sin? I try to pray the rosary every night and I almost always get distracted and so I repeat the prayer over and over until I say it with my full attention but is this wrong? Sometimes I’ll say an extra 2-3 Hail Marys at the end of every decade just to make sure that I said them all correctly. I also read somewhere that the devil is near us just waiting for us to mess up during prayer and lose focus so that’s also why I try to pray it perfectly. Is this wrong?? I also feel bad, like if I’m not giving enough attention when I get distracted.


I think you are worrying too much. It is certainly not wrong to say an “extra” Hail Mary at the end of a decade if you want to make sure you got them all but if you miss one but if you acted in good faith then you certainly won’t be condemned.

Don’t be afraid that your rosary recitation “won’t count” if you miss a prayer along the way. I’m sure it happens to everyone every now and then. Maybe you can find some place where you can pray and be less distracted.


If it was a sin to repeat a prayer because of distraction…anyone with a child under the age of 6 would be in big trouble and would probably be in confession on a constant basis.

No, it’s not a sin to repeat a prayer if you are distracted.


If getting distracted is a sin, then a good many of us are in trouble!


The scriptures that talk about babbling like the pagans is a warning against praying with empty words, just saying words to say them. It’s a challenge to us to really focus in our prayer. At the same time we have to realize that we are human beings, and we are prone to fall, we also live in a culture that is instant gratification no waiting. To sit down and pray, say a rosary is difficult and it is easy for us to get pulled off track. Sometimes we just need to ask God for the grace to be focused in prayer and not be distracted. I would argue that getting distracted during prayer is a lot more mental than something we willingly do, now you can in mass willingly not pay attention, but a stray thought that may cause you to miss part of the homily isn’t sinful, it is just a part of who we are. We shouldn’t sit there and say I’m going to be distracted but work to overcome the struggle. Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up, get up and get focused again. The worst thing you can do is focus on the way you just messed up or get distracted, than it just gets worse and worse. If you notice yourself not focusing on your prayer, simply say Lord help me focus on this prayer, and continue praying.


No it is not a sin to say the prayer again. However I would normally also not get into the habit of repeating prayers in that way.

And Especially during the rosary-- one is often going to not “hang” on each word of the prayer…and particularly as you meditate on the mysteries…so such can simply the be the nature of the rosary.

And regarding distractions in prayer in general: Do not get bothered if one realizes in prayer one was distracted…do not get upset…just simply bring your attention back to God. Such is normal…


No, it’s not sinful, but this is also the wrong way to look at it. Distracted prayer does not remove the efficacy from the prayer if the distraction was unintentional, and the vast majority of us are unable to maintain constant attention through extended prayer. So saying extra “Hail Marys” is unnecessary, and in the situation you describe, can be harmful both spiritually and mentally. Prayer through unintentional distracted moments remains true prayer, so there is no need to repeat. If this were not so, this would lead to scrupulosity, especially in cases where the prayer is a mandate (e.g. religious and priests praying the Liturgy of the Hours).

Prayer is a battle. The great spiritual writers on prayer have simply told us: if you begin to pray and suddenly find yourself distracted, you have the immediate choice: to dismiss the distraction and continue on, therefore choosing God in your prayer, or indulge the distraction. This is the moment of battle, and a moment of grace and merit.

Do not try to pray perfectly. Just try to pray your best. Do not let perfect be the enemy of the good


Do not repeat your prayers if you are unintentionally distracted–it can lead to scrupulosity. I read a story about a young monk who slipped into this and took a really long time to finish his prayers: his superior had to order him to set a time limit on his prayers to get him out of that.


We are all distracted, and it takes some of us longer to be aware of that. Just bring your attention back to the Lord’s presence. It is not necessary to continuously repeat prayers, according to a spiritual directive I got in the past, because a person can cause themselves to become upset and disturbed when they pray.

Every time you bring yourself back in the presence of the Lord, you are gaining strength to be more attentive.




link to searchable catechism. I’d recommend reading the several chapters on prayer.

2562 Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41

IMHO. Don’t worry about whether you add a Hail Mary, or drop one out, (or an Our Father, or you mixed mysteries,or technical things), that’s not the point. The arrangement of prayers is to assist you in achieving greater unity with God. Raising your heart and mind to Him. Distraction is bad— not because it makes you lose count— but because you’re losing focus on God. The prayer is a tool, its to assist you in achieving the goal, it is not the end in itself. You can say a ‘perfect’ Rosary technically, right number of prayers, every word correct, all the mysteries correct and be so focused on technical execution you lose focus on the goal. The technical execution concerns are a distraction from the goal!!! If you lose count— don’t focus on the count, focus on thinking about God, just picking up from some specific point (don’t worry about trying to get right where you left off, again that’s a distraction), just quickly pick a point and start turning your focus to God.


When my mind goes off on its own, I say this little prayer. “Dear God, My mind is wondering off in all sorts of directions now. Shield these thoughts from the evil one so he can never use them against me and help me turn these problems and fears back over to you.”

I use these thoughts and distractions and a means to reach out to God. They can be stepping stones to a real cry for help and prayer. Don’t fear them. Give them to God. Ask God to sort them out for you. Mary is very very patient. She will wait for the Third Hail Mary while you are talking to God about the problem that is facing you at that moment.


It is very easy for anyone to find themselves loosing concentration while praying because because we are human and might feel depressed or happy because of something that might have happened earlier or something is just still fresh in our mind. I’m not suggesting that you not worry about it but just keep trying your best to pray perfectly from your heart. If you feel that you just didn’t say a rosary as well as you would have liked say it a second time. Try to say the rosary without doing anything else. For example try and sit in the dark closet and meditate on your relationship with God a couple of minutes before you start. I sometimes find myself saying an extra Hail Mary to make up for my mindless praying but I really try my best not to do it too often.


I don’t think the good Lord is too upset, at least you are tryi g your best, which is all that can be expected!



Very good advice. I truly believe that to pray your best is to pray perfectly because it is coming fully and perfectly from your heart. Please don’t think I’m implying that you are wrong but that is just how I personally feel about prayer.


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